A Little Bit of Culture

Whilst my trip to Nicaragua was predominantly based around cacao research, I did take some time to explore my surroundings, absorbing the beauty and culture this amazing country had to offer at every opportunity. Morning tortillas made by the roadside, hummingbirds in the city parks, and some really stunning churches!

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Before the Bar

After our foray into the Nicaraguan jungle in search of the ancient heirloom cacao, meeting with farmers along the way, it was now time to harvest the beautiful golden-red pods of deliciousness we had gathered. Have you ever wondered what makes chocolate taste like, well, often many more things than just chocolate? It’s not as simple as you might think.

chocolate-flavour.jpg
What puts the chocolate in chocolate?

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Searching for Cocoa

TUESDAY 10th MAY:

After an introduction to the world of fine cacao and its production methods at Ingemann’s processing and sorting facility, it was time to hit the (rather bumpy) road out to the cacao farms of north central Nicaragua. Here we would be meeting with the farmers, learning their trade and helping them with the harvest of some of their crop – the pods of the prized Theobroma Cacao tree.

Our route for the forthcoming week
Our route for the forthcoming week

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Miel y Cacao

SUNDAY 9th MAY:

It’s 4.45am on a Sunday and I’m running for a train to the airport with two backpacks strapped to me, trying to eat a banana and call a cab company. Uber have failed me!

I make the flight and set off on my most ambitious Chocolate Adventure yet. Having spent most of the last few years exploring some of the best chocolate shops in far-flung corners of the world, and having worked as a chocolatier, it was now time to get down to basics, to go right back to the beginning and discover what really goes in to creating one of the worlds’ most popular treats.

Chocolate found here
Chocolate found here

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Let’s Hit The Road

THE TIME HAD COME:

The time for goodbyes as classes were over and I had a few more weeks until I would hop back over the pond.

Many a red cup had been drunk from, many a crazy party had been had (with many a stumble back home along Route 66 from Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Downtown Albuquerque). I’d said goodbyes and now it was time to hit the road and soak up as much New Mexico sun as possible before heading back to the Wet Country (England).

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California, Here We Come

Sourdough sculptures, groaning sea lions, the most amazing clam chowder – San Francisco really is one for the bucket list! I stayed with family friends in their stunning house, up the road from the beach with the most amazing view over Half Moon Bay! I quickly discovered, even tho it was May it was still pretty nippy, we are definitely still in coat-wearing season over here.

Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay

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Navajo Frybread

This is just a generic recipe I found in my Native American Harvest and Food book I bought in a thrift store in ABQ.

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From the Diné

Kelly is my course buddy, this awesome, bubbly Navajo girl in Native Language and Community class held by lecturer Christine Simms, a member of the Acoma tribe and resident of Acoma Pueblo (Sky City).

She told me of a smaller, less commercial pow wow (compared tot he Gathering of Nations) – Nizhoni Days at UNM, right on the field outside my apartment.

Eagle feathers are held in extremely high regard in Native American culture
Eagle feathers are held in extremely high regard in Native American culture

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Spring Break, Y’all.

The most American holiday of all, Spring Break is quintessentially American and something that people around the world associate with lots of drinking and general American-style chaos. They’re right…

We decided to do what every other American was going to do this Spring Break- go to Mexico. Only, as we were all on a budget and miles away from Cancun our next best option was Rocky Point in Puerto Penasco just south of the boarder of Arizona. Fun times were ahead!

ROAD TRIP!!
ROAD TRIP!!

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Red, Green or Christmas?

If you’ve got a delicate palette, or stomach…or both, then this festival is not for you! Pretty much all the BBQ sauces and salsa have some degree of heat. For those of you who are after an unusual stamina (or stupidity) challenge, then get yourselves down to the New Mexico Fiery Food and BBQ Festival and try some of the hottest chilies on earth!

New Mexico Fiery Foods Festival
What’s your (fiery) poison?

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